It lurks in the shadowy recesses of the French Quarter, among the flickering gas lanterns and Creole courtyards. In the humid, teeming swamps of Barataria. A dark secret. An ancient force. The will to remake one’s history. James Beauregard finds himself at the centre of an insidious conspiracy, two hundred years in the making. From the backstreets of New Orleans to the once pirate-infested waters of the Gulf Coast, the race begins to unravel the mystery of The Barataria Key.
I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review.
J.M. Richardson is back with his latest book. On December 21st 2016, Dr James Beauregard returns in a new adventure, The Barataria Key. As I mentioned in my previous review, this was the book Richardson contacted me to review. I purchased the first book in this series, The Apocalypse Mechanism, to get the complete story, and loved this book. You can read more about it here. In my view, that set the bar pretty high, so I had high hopes and even higher expectations for The Barataria Key. I haven’t had the opportunity yet to visit New Orleans, though it is on my bucket list, though I felt I was there such was the description and clear love the author has for the area.
The subject matter this time really caught my attention. Richardson has focussed in on a local legend in the area of New Orleans, namely the French privateer Jean Laffite. Local lore has him as a privateer working out of the bayous of the Mississippi River. He became involved in the War of 1812, approached by both the British and the American sides. Reading this book, I became intrigued in Laffite and read up a bit more about him. Definitely an interesting character who made his home in an interesting city.
But that story only gets better with the creative license and embellishments that Richardson introduces to The Barataria Key. Mixing in elements of Mayan history and mythology, the story holds mystery and intrigue. This book is where J.M. Richardson, for my money really distances himself from any comparisons to Dan Brown. As with the previous book, there is the element of a university professor investigating centuries-old mysteries. But the thing I found with the Dan Brown series was the fact that they were always seeking to save the world from a plot to destroy it. This book does centre around a plot, but it is not a world ending, cataclysmic plot. It’s a plot to undo the wars of independence in America, and bring the North American continent back under British rule.
This time around, Richardson doesn’t have his characters running all over the world in pursuit of answers, rather keeps them in and around the Gulf of Mexico and the sites of ancient Mayan civilisations. This allowed the story to really grow and develop as things moved at a great pace. Nothing felt rushed, unnecessary or over the top, and by keeping things in a smaller part of the world allowed space for the story and characters to build. As with The Apocalypse Mechanism, Beauregard and the other core characters unfold further, and we get to feel the depth of their personalities, their ups and downs, and the little human elements that we all deal with.
Once again, Richardson has hit the ball out of the park with The Barataria Key. I have grown to love James Beauregard and his cohorts even more, faults and all. Having talked with J.M. Richardson in my recent interview, I have learned he is working on a third book in this series, set in London. If it turns out anywhere close to as good as the first two books, I cannot wait for it.